At 9, Riley Orton is trying to make sense of why things like this sometimes happen.

Riley is the Kenwood lad who seems to have come into the world yearning to make it better by helping others.

There's a school foundation in a Kenyan slum named for him because of all he's done to send it donations and classroom supplies. Santa Rosa dentist Andrew McCormick earlier this year chose Riley as the winner of his office's Good Deed contest and gave him a nice laptop.

The computer was in the Orton family's car when someone stole it not long ago from in front of the house. Riley's mom, Jennifer, put off telling him about the laptop while she prayed that authorities would find the car and the computer would still be there.

The car was recovered the other day but it's pretty much trashed, and the laptop's gone.

Riley is hurt, but he isn't defeated. He presses on with his current coin drive for the children who get by on so very little at Akili School some 9,000 miles away.

RINGS A BELL: Look who's back outside the Safeway on Santa Rosa's Yulupa Avenue.

Russ Swart once again greets people for nine hours a day alongside a Salvation Army kettle. He learned at the bell ringers' kickoff last week that in 2012 he brought in the most, by far, of anyone in the history of kettling by the local Salvation Army.


Russ said the money is great, it allows for many people and families to be helped. But just as much, he values the connection with the people who stop to talk or to help him ring the bell.

He'll be outside the Safeway from 10a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and outside the G&G on West College Avenue on Wednesdays.

THE BIG BOTTLES: The mega-generous and gracious Seppi family of Healdsburg's Cousteaux French Bakery and Pepperwood Preserve's Herb and Jane Dwight are the honorees at a luncheon Tuesday at Vintners Inn.

So everybody will leave the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County celebration feeling good. And somebody will leave with one of the greatest instant wine collections ever assembled.

It is 24 magnums and three 3-liter bottles of fine Sonoma County wines, all donated to the foundation's Wetzel Community Leadership luncheon by the elite Lords & Goddesses of the Vine.

The wine raffle's winner will need some help carrying the big bottles to the car. It's easy to imagine the Seppis and Dwights pitching in.

STEREO SHOP RUNDOWN: At Cartunes in Santa Rosa, a customer, age 79, was enjoying the service she received when a young tech suddenly bolted out the door.

The woman, who asks to be identified only as Linda, quickly realized that another man had opened the door of her car, parked just outside the shop on Santa Rosa Avenue, grabbed her purse and was sprinting away.

The pursuing, powerfully built Cartunes employee shouted at him to stop, and he did.

Linda has her purse back, and a new hero.

GREEDY GREBE? It surprised a volunteer of the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa to respond to a call for help with a grounded bird at Rohnert Park's Security Self Storage and find a Western Grebe.

It's right at home in lakes and swamps, and Rohnert Park has few of either.

Rescuer Jeremy Nichols concludes the bird "had visited the new casino and stayed up all night, for it was exhausted and its eyes were red."

OK, all Western Grebes have red eyes. Regardless, Nichols trusts this one will not return to casinotown once its health is restored at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia and it's released back to the wild after a good talking to.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)